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The Woodshed: My last lesson for St. Croix Music Magazine

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JJ Rocks Article # 251: The Woodshed:
My last lesson for St. Croix Music Magazine:
From St. Croix Music Magazine, Issue # 50, November, 2010
Let me start by saying that just about every album (or 45/78) in my record collection influenced anything that I now play, compose, or listened to. For me to tell you about my favorite bands would be useless, and I dont want to sound like a bio on myspace. So what Im going to do in our final issue is to tell you who were my real musical influences to m, and still are. I guess Ill have to go back to my hometown of Baltimore in the early sixties.

If you are any kind of professional musician with a long history, then you will never forget the first player that you were standing in front of that blew you away. Not just the musicians that you played with, but the ones that gave you chills as you were dreaming about being in a band. Or maybe it was after you were already in your first band. It could have a musician that played at your school dance, or maybe it was when you started playing professionally and there were always two bands in the same club (50 minutes on, 50 minutes off) and some player knocked your socks off.

Regardless, they probably had more of an everlasting impression on your playing than your heroes on your favorite records. You may be thinking about all those interviews with musicians that talk about their inspirations that came from their favorite records. Well of course! Recordings are usually a musicians first influences. But finding someone in your own town that was right in front of you as you were blown away was probably what made you go home and practice the most. Records can be taken on and off our shelves at our own convenience. But realizing that you have local competition is the best motivation, especially if you want to make a living at playing music on your own turf. Or at the very least, have a musical reputation that is respectable.

In a way, that happens when you go to live concerts. But there is a huge difference between buying a ticket and be inspirered by the show than seeing a local hero that lives in your area that you dont need a backstage pass to just shake their hand. I first realized that when I would see and talk to my first inspirations from the Baltimore/DC area like Bobby Peters, Danny Gatton, Roy Buchanan, Punky Meadows, Nathan Page, Tim Lloyd, Tim Steele, John Tracy, Eddie Demarino, Mike and Tony Sciuto, Vernon Sneed, Scott Johnson, Dennis Chambers, Paul Soroka, Jessica Williams, and many more. Some of these musicians I got to play in a band with with, and others I just sat back and admired. But the important thing is that we always talked and were friendly towards each other. That part of a musical/inspirational relationship is very important. So please allow me in this very last Woodshed article to say that these are some of the most important lessons that I have written so far for any of my music students on line or off.

Dont let envy and jealousy get mixed up with inspiration. And dont just pretend to be someones friend just to get free lessons on techniques that you are too lazy to figure out on your own. But most important, dont be two faced and say one thing to a musicians face, and another behind his (or her) back. That is a sign of one of the lowest forms of cowardly deceit known in the world of professional music. Some of these traits get passed down from fathers to sons, or mothers to daughters. Im very concerned with the kids who are misled by parental wanna be musicians, singers, and managers that dont have the drive to do it on their own. So they get their children to do it for them while posting bad videos and flashing plastic trophies. But they bury themselves in self marketing, have little to offer the artistic side of musical world, and spend most of their bar side conversation pretending to someone that they are not.

So please let me say thanks for reading this column for the last four years and I will let you know when my new site The Spotlight Zone is up and running. There will be free recordings of my music from several genres, video lessons, a students section, and what ever else I think I can offer for free. It will be a while (probably next year) to get the design that Dorothy and I want, but when its ready we will let you know. But for now, all 50 issues of the magazine will stay on line because of all the bands and solo artist from around the world that still have links to the articles.

JJ Rocks - The Spotlight Zone